According to federal regulators, Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) were supposed to make roads safer. Instead, a comprehensive report on the effect of ELDs nationwide has found that unsafe driving behavior has “increased significantly” since ELD enforcement began.
A team of researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Arkansas has published a report on the effect of the ELD mandate. Using inspection, violation, and crash data from the FMCSA, the researchers examined a year before the ELD mandate went into effect, three months during the “soft enforcement” period, and five months from after full enforcement went into effect.
Pre-ELD, truck accidents averaged 1,717 per week. That increased to 1,912 per week during the soft enforcement period, and fell again to 1,703 during full enforcement. According to the report, “there is no evidence to suggest” that ELDs helped prevent accidents.
While the report does say that HOS compliance increased significantly under ELDs, it also points out the drawbacks of the rigid HOS structure. According to the report, “unsafe driving violations increased significantly.”
As more drivers adopted ELDs, the number of unsafe driving violations – such as speeding – spiked. And amongst those groups who had lower levels of voluntary ELD use (such as owner-operators and small fleets), those violations increased even more.
At the end of the report, the researchers claim that ELDs “unequivocally enhanced HOS compliance.” But because of that, ELDs “incentivize an increase in unsafe driving behavior, which is more tightly correlated to accident rates than hours of service violations.”
As a result, the report finds that “the effect of the [ELD mandate] is that accidents actually increased by between 2,290 and 3,266 per year.”